Chronicles of a writer abroad



It seems to happen every year at around this time: time speeds up for me. Poof, and weeks disappear; it’s late November, and then suddenly it’s the week before Christmas. Very strange. I don’t know what happens to those weeks. Are they appropriated by elves?

Anyway, here’s a few things from lately:

Stelian’s TEDx talk became available online, which let us relive the great experience of the day in October where we spent the full day at Zürich’s TV studios for the conference. The illustrious (yet highly modest!) speaker wouldn’t want me to discuss his achievement at length, but if you’re in the group that still doesn’t get what he does but are curious, watching the 11-minute talk below might help. And I would like to share that while the final product looks pretty effortless, A LOT of work goes into giving one of these talks. You do endless script revisions; you do rehearsals in front of speaking coaches and TED-people; you do stage-familiarization; you do microphone-fitting; you have to submit to hair and makeup. Then you have to face the lights and the cameras and the 500-person crowd. I’m thankful to have experienced this without, y’know, having to directly experience it.

May I also recommend one other talk from that day? It’s the one below, by Charles Eugster. The title — Why Bodybuilding at 93 is A Great Idea — may be enough to hook you. Yes, he’s a 93 year-old bodybuilder. He’s also a funny and inspiring speaker whose talk earned a standing ovation that day. Stelian had the good fortune to go onstage right after him — needless to say, the crowd was warmed up.

And but so moving on: my newest author crush is David Foster Wallace. First I read a book of his essays, which was so excellent that I then immediately decided to wade into the 1,100-page behemoth that is Infinite Jest. I am not a very quick reader — I expect it will take me many weeks to get through. But I’m enjoying each and every moment spent reading it. I look forward to being able to discuss it with a couple others who I know are reading it also, and I may post about it here as it eats up a significant number of my waking hours.

Of course, lately our attention has also been captured by the news from the US, and the sadness and anger and polemic spurred by it. I have opinions, but no desire to add more fuel to the fires.

Instead, I’ll leave you with a song from an album that I’ve had on repeat for a few days. It feels to me like a fitting antidote for a sped-up, confusing, emotional time (also, an antidote to the fact that the “Gangnam style” video — which I refuse to link to — has perplexingly been named the most successful of all youtube-time. Yes, I will try to propagandize good, meaningful music!).

Happy lead-up to the holidays, everyone.


2 thoughts on “Lately

  1. The days at the end of the year do seem to slip away, don’t they? Maybe I’ll join you in reading Infinite Jest – I started it about a year ago and gave up before page 400 – which I was told was where you have to get before the story really drags you in. I allowed myself to get annoyed when the author had a paragraph that went on for pages – it struck me as arrogant and manipulative – but Robert over at the blog 101 Books ranks it in the top 10 he’s read so far.

    • Thanks for the comment, Patti. I am really enjoying the book, but wow, is it ever a commitment. He tries my patience sometimes, too, but on the whole I’m blown away by his ability to write different characters and voices.

      The 101 Books blog looks really interesting, too. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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